In the wake of this weekend's attack by a great white shark on a surfer off a Western Australian beach, the WA Government has temporarily overturned a ban on hunting this endangered species to allow Fisheries Officers to destroy the shark.
“There is no question that any attack of this nature is extremely unfortunate and we sympathise fully with the young man and his family”, said Mr Kennedy, HSI Director. “However, there is no evidence to suggest that an individual shark is likely to repeatedly attack humans close to shore, nor is there any way to be certain that a targeted shark is the one responsible for the attack.”
Great white sharks are a slow growing and long lived marine predator that are globally threatened by fisheries bycatch and international trade in their fins, jaws and teeth. International treaties have sought to curb these threats, however, hunting still occurs, and trophy fishing is a major threat to great white sharks.
“Far from protecting swimmers, all the overturning of this hunting ban will achieve is to encourage unauthorised vigilantes to take the law into their own hands”, said Mr Kennedy. “Great white sharks are still protected under federal and international law, and this action by the WA Government is in complete contravention to these protection initiatives.”
This will be the first time a shark attack in WA has prompted the lifting of the hunting ban since these protection measures came into force. Not even with the last fatal attack was this considered an appropriate action to protect swimmers by the WA Government.
“This potentially indiscriminate culling of sharks is wholly out-dated”, said Mr Kennedy. “The WA Government should be giving more funding to aerial patrols and to lifesavers for early warning initiatives such as observation towers and power-skis, rather than encouraging the hunting of a unique and vulnerable species. The killing of one great white shark will not make the beaches safer.”
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